Jang Ha Na is the fourth daughter of the eldest son of a family that’s been making soy sauce for hundred of years. She has to dress up like a man because of their financial situation. The family needs a male representative for their soy sauce business. After giving birth to four daughters, they gave up for trying for the male heir and the fourth daughter will just have to pretend to be a boy and act like a son within the family.
Cast & Credits
The main storyline regarding the female lead having to pretend to be male and trying to keep it a secret from others was quite intriguing a story, but what I particularly liked about it was the unconventional twist in the usual love rivalry story, as in the main love triangle it was two guys getting confused over their feelings for supposedly another guy but she was actually a girl.
I also thought it was great that even simple storylines and events happening throughout the drama, managed at times to be rather thrilling, such as when Ha Na/Eun Seong and Ra Gong were competing, and the horrible things that Ra Gong, his mother, grandmother, and sister got up to trying to ruin things for Eun Seong.
I furthermore really liked in general how the story mainly focused on the family and the family business, and although I hated the sexism of the family's old tradition, it was one of the main points of the drama anyway, to overcome that.
Characters and Acting:
One of the main things I liked so much about the drama, was that it had such a colourful array of characters, with so many vastly different and interesting personalities, I ended up liking and getting emotionally attached to virtually all of them.
The main three were all generally likeable characters and actors. I respected the tenaciousness of Jang Ha Na/Eun Seong (played by actress Park Han Byul) who went through and put up with a lot, and despite being very much feminine in appearance, she did well at putting on a more masculine persona when she was pretending to be male. Then later in the series, the steadfast strength and determination of an aspiring businesswoman, yet one with such care and loyalty to her family and traditions, and a bit of an innocence about her at the same time, was also portrayed well throughout the drama.
In regards to the lead male characters, I thought Seol Do Hyeon (Jung Eun Woo) was lovely and I liked how his character could be so sweet and gentle at times but totally emotional during others, and it was great that he was willing to act on his feelings towards Ha Na/Eun Seong rather than abide by expectations. I also liked how wonderfully expressive he was throughout the drama, and those scenes where he was angry or upset were so realistic and emotionally involving. The chemistry between Do Hyeon (Jung Eun Woo) and Ha Na (Park Han Byul) was great as well.
I also liked how the more earthy Han Yoon Chan (Lee Tae Gon) was secretly watching out for Eun Seong/Ha Na, trying to protect her, and how he helped her throughout the series.
There were some great supporting characters as well, especially the eccentric Do Eun (Han Yoo Yi), who is probably one of the best female characters I have come across in a Korean drama (although I have to say that during the first episode she was in I didn't like her at all, but my opinion soon changed as she quickly ended up a highly entertaining character). I also liked it how she became much more caring a character later in the series, and in general her expressiveness and lively nature throughout the drama.
Also Ha Na’s sister Ha Myung was adorable and actress Ha Jae Sook played her so well, and the wonderfully loyal and dependable Hwang So Soy Sauce’s Secretary Kim was a really nice character as well.
As for the antagonists, Im Chung Ran (Lee Hye Sook), her mother Byun Jong Soon (Kim Ji Young) and Jang Ra Gong (Kim Joo Young) were great characters and acted their parts well. Whilst I really hated them throughout and how unbelievably despicable they were, they nonetheless made great antagonists, and it was really good how they swapped and changed between being horrible characters yet being comical at other times, particularly later in the series. So instead of just being unlikeable characters, they instead were just as interesting and entertaining.
The first issue I had with the drama, was that the pre-birth and childhood episodes went on for much longer than necessary at the beginning, but they were, however, integral to the story anyway, setting certain main events in motion for the rest of the drama.
The other, and basically the main issue I had, was that whilst the drama had a good balance of family, potential romances, and business stuff earlier in the series up to about episode 50, after that the drama did become too preoccupied with the business storylines, and started to get rather repetitive. There were, however, some really nice romantic moments, some heartbreakingly sad moments, and a mix of some thrilling, comedy, and good moments as well, and although it did get disappointing and rather dull in the latter part of the series for a while, it did pick up again and had some great final episodes.
As for the overall general style of the drama, in regards to both story and acting, it was definitely melodramatic at times, and some of the events in the drama seemed rather unbelievable, but from what I've read about the Makjang genre, which this was, this is all part of it, and to be honest, I loved it, it was such a breath of fresh air after all the rather bland and trying to be realistic stories, acting and characters, that have been in various other dramas that I've completed lately, that just failed to draw me in. Whereas this, it was much more gripping and absorbing, plus some of the melodrama by certain antagonistic characters made for some quite funny comedic moments as well.
Also by going beyond the norm of what is expected from certain situations in a drama, it made even the mundane much more interesting and enjoyable.
Whilst the majority was the typical type of music played in Korean dramas, I liked quite a few of the pieces of music in this drama, and thought they went well with each of the situations they were played during.
Will definitely rewatch this drama, as even though I know the basic story, because particularly I liked the characters in this so much, it makes me want to go back to them and their stories again some time.
Whilst it certainly was a long drama, it was however often changing, between bad situations, tense moments, happy feel good moments, comedy, romance, etc, and despite my disappointment for a while later in the series, since it had such an interesting basic storyline, a wonderfully unconventional take on the love rivalry story, a great mix of characters, and an emotionally moving last few episodes, I thought it was an overall enjoyable drama.
If you can get past the woman hating in the beginning you will be awarded in the end. Good wins and bad gets to learn the lesson + a chance to redeem itself. No matter how I hated the baddies they were often the most interesting to watch and they were the ones who drove the plot forward. But God did I hate them, they made my blood boil and one of the reasons why I finished this drama was to see them suffer. The show gets boring at some point but there is always something refreshing happening all the time, never mind it's unrealistic and stupid. Just don't take this show too seriously.
Even though there was enough time to tie all loose ends some things were not explained properly. Anyway, the ending was decent no less. Personally I was a bit disappointed with the pairing, probably I am the only one who wished Hana to end up with that other guy.